The Importance of the Other Half of Your Day
March 28, 2019
Sleep.. that magical thing we do that let's us do what we do. What IS sleeping? They say our brains are quite active during sleep, so it's not like we just shut off.. but during this important time of our day, we are 'clocking out' so we can recharge.
While we sleep, our brains are reviewing what happened throughout the day, and distill and cook these events down into forms that it can use in the future. Memories are formed and associations are made, we learn..
Our bodies are doing similar work. While we sleep, our bodies are healing and repairing all of the micro injuries that occur with daily use, growing, and fighting pathogens.
When people do not get enough sleep, their mental, emotional, and physical abilities begin to suffer: it becomes difficult to learn, make decisions, or solve problems; sleep deficiency is linked to higher rates of depression and suicide; the body begins to gain weight, experience pathologies such as heart disease, diabetes, and immune deficiency.
What can we do to get more sleep? It's not like we can add more time to the day. If only, right? Understanding the importance of sleep can help raise its priority. We will never find time for sleep, so we must make it. As with everything else in life, it is up to us to schedule our priorities, to think ahead, and reckon with consequences. We simply can't do it all. There will be things that must be dropped from the day's schedule in order to attend to one last important task.
It's worth it. With the appropriate amount of sleep, we will be able to perform better and cope better. We will be more productive and will more than make up for the time spent sleeping. Our better physical, emotional, and mental health will benefit us not just for the short term daily grind, but also for the long term.
One of the great ironies of life is the busier and more stressed we are, the less we tend to sleep; yet, if we could sleep more, we could cope with the stress and work load better.
Here are some ideas to break the cycle and get a leg up on sleep. And once you do, guard and protect your sleep as if your life depends on it.. because it does.
- go to bed at the same time every night, even on weekends
- your body gets into a routine and will prepare itself for sleep at your regular bedtime which will increase the chance of falling and staying asleep
- exercise enough during the day
- when you get enough exercise, your body will sleep better at night. You don't have to train for a marathon.. just make sure you get out, go for a walk, or move your body in some way.
- keep your room dim
- beside clocks and those little lights from the electronic devices do make a difference light levels affect hormone levels which affect sleep levels!
- make a conscious effort
- turn off the tv, get off the device. You know you're tired, but you just don't want to get up and get ready for bed. Just do it.
- leave the dirty dishes
- feed the baby one last time and hand her off to another loving caretaker and get to bed early
- beware caffeine
- it's a life saver, for sure, but it will keep you up at night too. Keep your hits in the morning else they'll come back to haunt you in the middle of the night
- strategic naps
- if you're tired during the day, take a quick cat nap instead of hitting the caffeine; but beware of napping too long on a regular basis because it can begin to affect your night time routine (of course, there are times when napping as long as possible is appropriate: such as overcoming illness or postpartum survival)
- new moms: sleep when baby sleeps - REALLY. I know you want your house cleaned up, and I realize the emotional and psychological importance of that, but first things first. Getting enough sleep is so important in coping with the rest of new motherhood. Those dirty dishes and the rest of your life falling apart won't seem so bad with enough sleep under your belt.